In his new book, "The Liberty Amendments," my friend Mark Levin is offering a bold plan for the re-establishment of America's founding principles and a restoration of constitutional republicanism through a series of amendments to the Constitution.
I know of no one who has a greater reverence for our Constitution and for the scheme of limited government and personal liberties it established. Mark has been a student of America's founding and its constitutional history since he was a young boy, when he and his friends would visit Philadelphia, where it all started, and study the history.
I had many outstanding professors in both undergraduate and law school who were experts in the Constitution and constitutional law, and I know and read many constitutional scholars today. But I've never met anyone so steeped in this subject or so attuned to the minds of the Framers as Mark. He understands our system and the issues underlying its creation more intimately than anyone else.
Mark has written two books, "Liberty and Tyranny" and "Ameritopia," in which he expounds on our founding principles and the threat they are currently under from the forces of liberalism and statism. But in "The Liberty Amendments," he proposes an action plan.
Like Mark, I was originally skeptical of the idea that we should support the calling of a constitutional convention in an effort to rein in the federal government and restore the power of the states and our individual liberties. But that's because I hadn't fully explored what that process would entail.
In fact, Mark is not calling for a constitutional convention. He's suggesting we have a national dialogue with the goal of amending the Constitution under its Article 5. As he points out, Article 5 provides for two methods of amending the Constitution, but in neither case does this process provide for a constitutional convention.
One method is for Congress to pass a proposed amendment and then forward it to the state legislatures for ratification -- a process that has occurred 27 times. The other -- and the one Mark is proposing -- involves the direct application of two-thirds of the state legislatures for a convention for proposing amendments, which, if proposed, would also have to be ratified by three-fourths of the states. This method has been tried but never successfully in our history.
Perhaps my earlier confusion -- and the confusion of others about this process -- lay in the fact that the language includes the word "convention," but it's critical to understand that this is a convention not for some de novo constitution but for the proposal of specific and defined amendments.